As most of you know, this week consists of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee went before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing this last Tuesday. With live feed, many of you probably either watched some of it or got sound bites from the media. Sessions, like most all politicians and attorneys, have a controversial history. Whether you support him or not, we often make a quick judgment on party lines and what the media feeds us.
At the time of writing this article, Sessions’ hearing was just starting. Whether he was confirmed or not, here’s your opportunity to do some personal homework on the man and the office of Attorney General. Know that your engagement right here at home will not only keep you well informed on the “real” facts and the full context of the dialogue, but help our communities make the connection and impact from federal to local.
First, to learn more about his bio, give the Britannica a try. Secondly, The Wall Street Journal (January 10, 2017 live hearings online) offered highlights as the hearings continued on specific questions posed and responded to by Sessions. Highlights included the following:
- Weigh Immigration Policy—Sessions said “As a nation we should evaluate immigration whether it serves and advances the national interest, not the corporate interests,…I do think too often, Congress has been complacent in supporting legislation that might make businesses happy but may have depressed wages,…”
- Voting Rights Act—Sessions called the bill “one of the most important acts to deal with racial difficulties that we faced . . . It changed the whole course of history — particularly in the South.” He notes that he voted to extend the Voting Rights Act in 2005. Sessions also said “It is intrusive — the Supreme Court on more than one occasion has described it as an intrusive act,…”
- Illegal Immigration–Sessions Vowed to ‘Follow the Laws Passed by Congress.
- Systemic Racism— Sessions said there was no question that racism and discrimination existed in a “systemic and powerful and negative way . . . I know that was wrong. I know we need to do better. We can never go back,…”
- Russian Hacking: Sessions declined to comment on intel findings but promised to get briefed.
- Dept. of Justice: Sessions affirmed he would limit the contact between DOJ employees and the White House. He also said leaking derogatory investigative information is unacceptable.
- Waterboarding: Sessions said at one point there was a determination that it was proper, but Congress changed the law and now it is “absolutely improper and illegal.”
- Gambling: Sessions promised to study online gambling law.
- Hate Crime Law: Sessions says he opposes federal hate crime law because state courts were effective.
- Session’s vote against 2013 Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act: Sessions believed state courts, which traditionally handle criminal law, were effectively prosecuting such cases and that an expansion of federal authority wasn’t necessary.
These highlights only addressed the first hour or two of the hearing. To view or read more of Sessions’ responses, C-Span and NPR often retain videos and transcripts. Simply use their search field to locate the hearings.
So, here we begin offering you opportunities to help our community and nation do more good than bad by your proactive homework and involvement. Let’s continue to work it out together in 2017.